Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Six dimensions of parenting

Jay Belsky  is an expert in child development and family studies. He is the director of child study and human development at Tufts University. He came up with six dimensions of parenting. The first one is attentiveness which is paying attention to your child. Children need attention and LOTS of it and will often demand it. An infant demands it when they cry, an older child may put their hands on a parents face and move the parents face so that the parent is looking at them, a primary grade age child may simply say, "Mom/Dad pay attention to me or Look at me or Watch me." Regardless of the way the child gets a parents attention the child will get the parents attention.

The second dimension is physical contact which is holding and cuddling an infant. As they grow children will come sit on a parents lap uninvited and move what's in the way in order to sit. Physical contact helps teach children about how to treat people. For example if a parent uses physical abuse to show love, the child learns love is shown through abuse. If a parent gives hugs and kisses and cuddles with the child, the child learns love is expressed through hugs, kisses and cuddles. They then learn to treat people the say way.

The third dimension is verbal stimulation which is talking to them. Even as an infant a parent should be talking to their child. This is the beginning of learning how to socialize and that people take turns to speak. A child then learns to speak using words and parents wonder why they spent so much time and effort getting them to speak because now their children won't be quiet! Children have many important things to say to parents. It sounds like unimportant things to parents because they're things the parents have already learned, but to the child it's all new and they want to share it with the parents. Take time to listen to them. Put all electronics down and listen to them! When parents are talking to children, this is when they learn whether or not what they have to say is important to the parents. If the parent is on an electronic device, the child learns whatever is on the device is more important than them and what the're saying. Please don't send this message!

The fourth dimension is material stimulation which is interactions with toys. What looks like playing to a parent is actually a child learning. Materials, whether they be toys or natural such as leaves, teaches children about their environment and teaches them skills as they learn how to turn a toy on or off or learn how to put the pieces of a puzzle in the right space. The fifth dimension is responsive care which is responding to a child's cries and needs. A child has many activities they need responded to during the day. They need to have their request for food filled, they need help opening the door, bandaging an injury, a response to go play with a friend, the list is literally endless. How a parent responds will teach a child how to respond. If a parent is always short-tempered, when the parent asks the child for something, the child will be short-tempered. Please try to respond with kindness and patience but also forgive yourself for those times when you don't.

The last dimension is restrictiveness which is putting restrictions or conditions on what you'll do  for your child or what you allow your child to do for themselves. The restrictions a parent puts on their child will affect the child's self-esteem and whether they try new things or at all. If a parent constantly tells a child  they'll do something but 'only if' they do something for them first the child learns to put conditions on things particularly love. If a parent doesn't let a child learn to do things for themselves such as eat, the child learns they can't do things for themselves and may stop trying.

The first five of these dimensions have positive affects on children's emotional, social and intellectual development. The last dimension is negative. As you be a parent to your child keep these dimensions in mind as you help your children grow and develop.

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